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Distance learning begins for Sweetwater Union HS District

Some parents complained of technical glitches.
Sweetwater district scrambling to fix $30 million budget mistake
Posted at 6:02 PM, Aug 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-03 23:18:08-04

CHULA VISTA (KGTV)-- It was back to school--virtually--for the Sweetwater Union High School District. They are the first school district in the county to start the year.

Some parents said the one issue they ran into was technical problems. Gina Chavez, a mother of three and an elementary school teacher, said two of her three kids dealt with issues getting started. She said day one was "crazy."

“My daughter started the day without an advisory class and no code for her science class,” Chavez said.

Her other daughter couldn’t log onto her iPad, issued by the school district. “We had to scramble. I got my work computer, was able to log her on that way. [I] had to do a trouble ticket.”

Two of her children have special needs and are on IEPs, individualized education programs. There still some question about how that will be handled in a remote environment.

“I still haven’t heard anything as far as how they are going to specifically address his goals. I’m still waiting and if I don’t hear by the end of the week, I will be reaching out to figure that out,” Chavez said.

A district spokesperson said roughly 9,400 devices were distributed last week. The majority of students were able to hold on to their devices from last year.

Regarding technical problems, spokesperson Manny Rubio acknowledged the issues, but said the “issues are being resolve fairly quickly.”

“It seems as though the great majority of students were logged in and had access to their classes,” Rubio wrote in an email to ABC 10News. “We do have our IT staff as well as school site staff available to answer questions and resolve issues.”

Under the distance learning model, students are block schedules with three classes per day. There will be 30 to 45 minutes of virtual face time with the student’s teacher. The remaining time will be independent study, according to the plan released by the district.

“I feel like I was torn in three different directions this morning trying to help every child get where they needed to be,” Chavez said. “If I had work today… I think I would have been in tears.”

Chavez said she hopes the glitches get resolved by the end of the week.

The Sweetwater Union High School District is facing many challenges, including a roughly $30 million budget shortfall.

An audit of the district conducted by the independent state agency Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) showed there was enough evidence that fraud or misappropriation of funds may have occurred within the district.